Go-ahead nears for new Apple store | February 11, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 11, 2011

Go-ahead nears for new Apple store

Structure 'reinforces retail core' in downtown Palo Alto, anchors Florence Street

by Carol Blitzer

Plans for Apple's new glass-fronted and -topped retail store in downtown Palo Alto edged closer to final approval this week, as Curtis Williams, Palo Alto's planning director, was scheduled to give the plan one last review.

The city's Architectural Review Board gave its stamp of approval to the modern design at 340 University Ave., the former Z Gallerie, on Jan. 20, with only a minor tweak.

The two-story, 16,600-square-foot building, which would replace the current structure that is deemed seismically unsafe, could be open for business in early 2012. The new design features ground-floor retail plus storage and office areas, with a second floor at the rear of the building and a basement.

The store will be located a few blocks away from Apple's current retail space at 451 University Ave.

An earlier project was approved in 2009 that would have retained the existing building but added a new facade and roof and improved the interior spaces. But structural analysis disclosed "evidence of hollow clay tile" walls and substandard concrete support columns, according to a staff report. The report noted that the city's building division recommended demolition and reconstruction to meet current codes.

The new building will feature clear glass panels, framed by stone-paneled vertical columns, under a glass entry canopy, with 10-foot-tall entry doors. The slightly curved roof would be made of insulated glass panels supported by a painted steel truss system, the report noted.

"The new glass facade and roof creates an inviting day-lit interior that is designed to dissolve the boundary between exterior and interior to connect the activity on the street and within the store," according to Apple's architectural firm, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

"The goal is to create a total experience where distracting elements have been edited out of the visual field," Bohlin Cywinski Jackson's letter to the Architectural Review Board said.

The overall structure would be slightly smaller than the old building.

With its ground-floor retail space, the new building meets the key requirement of the University Avenue district. The report also pointed to the design's contribution to "an exciting outdoor and pedestrian environment, including vibrant and eclectic architecture."

The report noted that "the intent of the glass material is to create a more open look and feel to the facade," making it consistent with the Downtown Urban Design Guide.

"There didn't seem to be any significant objections to the project," said Steven Turner, advance-planning manager for the city, of the review board's deliberations.

The only adjustment required is to expand a recessed area in the storefront from 57 square feet to 75 square feet.

In addition, bicycle racks, newspaper racks and a trash receptacle along the sidewalk near the store front would be moved, with details to be worked out with the public-works department and transportation division.

The proposed building could earn 44 points on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) checklist, the report stated.

The building-permit process could take two to three months, Turner said.

Before housing Z Gallerie, the building was the home to a retail food court and earlier to Liddicoat's Market. It was built in the early 1920s.

Associate Editor Carol Blitzer can be e-mailed at cblitzer@paweekly.com.


Posted by Lisa, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 9, 2011 at 10:30 am

Another Landmark dedicated to destruction. I have no problem with AAPL moving to that space, but at least the building commission should have required that the historic aspects of the facade be retained or duplicated to preserve the historic aspect of Liddicoat's Market. As Liddicoats was a gathering place for generations of Palo Altans, so now will that groud serve to gather AAPL fans (of which i am one). But I absolutely bemoan the destruction of what makes Palo Alto special. Soon, the old town won't be recognizable, and what drew us to Palo Alto, what we remember from our youths, will be destroyed. Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell

Posted by Liddicoats fan, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 9, 2011 at 10:58 am

I ate lunch at Liddicoats almost every day when I was working downtown during the 1980s. Memorable and sentimental, yes. But historic? Come on. The building was a dump even then. Forcing the landlord to maintain that design is silly.

Joni Mitchell was talking about clear cutting forests, not cleaning up slums.

Posted by Lisa, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 9, 2011 at 11:03 am

Well, i agree that Liddicoats was a dump in the 1980s. But don't agree that landlords have the unmitigated right to build whatever they please. Buildings serve a public, in addition to a business, purpose. Just read Lewis Mumford. But should we just tear down every building in PA just because it doesn't meet building codes? We would then have an unrecognizable city, and it's charm would be, and is, being destroyed. Some just don't know what they are losing. I thought the readers might be interested in this weblink of Liddicoats, which opened in 1921, closed in 1977. This spot was also a prominent early gathering spot in Palo Alto, where the town was framed and early issues discussed.

Web Link

Posted by Lisa, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 9, 2011 at 11:05 am

And I would hardly call Palo Alto a Slum

Posted by Too much traffic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2011 at 11:18 am

What about a guarantee of no new net car trips into Palo Alto from Apple and housing for all the employees??
After all, even one new net car trip into the city is too many.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 9, 2011 at 11:25 am

Liddicotes ... a slum? Maybe, the dumpy mulitple restaurant and shop spaces in the little market layout ... yeah, it was not that great. I do remember Mrs. Field's Cookies in my cookie eating days. I got sick there a few times a Liddicotes after eating there. But, the building? It is basically a nice building with brick, wood beams and lots of space. I don't see what makes it a slum. The building is fine, except possibly for earthquake concerns. It seems to have made it though the last big one OK. If there's any way it could be saved it should. Besides it costs a lot, uses a lot of energy, a lot of resources, traffic, noise, street obstructions to build out a new building ... what about it is so dangerous?

Posted by enough!, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Yuk. I miss Z Gallerie. With the exception of Shady Lane, we have no fun and different stores to browse.

Posted by Fan of Liddicoats, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 9, 2011 at 1:10 pm

So I find it interesting that it is considered un- fixable. I remember when it closed down it had to go through earthquake proofing at the time, that was the whole issue. We are really taking away the charm of "Old" Palo Alto. I am not against Apple going in but I am against the new bldg they want to build. They might have to spend more money to fix it up but in the long run it keeps the downtown charm.

As we know money talks and Apple has convinced them this would be better but it would be nice if the ARB would balk on this one.

Posted by Biker chick, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2011 at 1:20 pm

If they take out bike racks, will they replace them with bike parking nearby? There already is a shortage of decent bike parking downtown. It would be great if Apple would accomodate their bicycling customers like me by keeping bike parking close by. Maybe planner Steve Turner could point Apple architects to some of the new, beautiful bike parking designs. There are bike racks that look like art.

Please get this bit right. Thanks for listening.

Posted by Biker dude, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Apple appeals to the young hip mobile crowd. What they should do is replace 2 or 3 car parking spaces in front of the store with racks for 20 or 30 bicycles. That instantly increases the number of customers they can service by 10 fold. And those customers can watch their bikes from inside the store, reducing the risk of theft. As an added bonus, people across the street can now look directly into those big glass store windows instead of having their view blocked by a couple of big ugly SUVs. Cost of this upgrade is minimal. Talk about a win win win solution. You can thank me later, Steve.

Posted by moi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Steve --
I'll thank you now.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 9, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Can we ;hope it will not be as ugly as the new Walgreen's Store. The original building was a Palo Alto classic, defining the gracious and charm of our now disappearing
downtown via the Cheesecake Factory, the ugly buildings on the "Circle', and much more. Who approves this stuff?

Posted by Midlander, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 9, 2011 at 7:43 pm

If cities are to remain interesting they need to evolve.

I can well imagine the citizens of 1920 Palo Alto decrying the construction of "monstrosities" like today's Liddicotes building.
(Which I personally happen to have fond memories of.)

If Palo Alto is to be interesting and to be fun in 2050 or 2100 for new generations of citizens, it is going to have to continue to change, grow and adapt. Some of the old must be preserved, but only some. We need the new too. I hope we give a future generation the opportunity to lambast the plans to demolish their much beloved, deeply historic Apple Museum (formerly The Apple Store), that beloved icon of their youth.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 10, 2011 at 3:48 am

OK .... here's one for Palo Alto experts ... everyone is talking about the historic value of Liddicotes, which has been gone for a long time, replaced many years ago by Z-Gallerie.

So .... how many know what historic building the Apple store is currently in?
Does anyone at all remember what the Apple building used to be?

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 10, 2011 at 3:54 am

I have to say ... most people do not ride their bikes to the Apple store ... at least not if they are taking a computer away, or bringing their computer in - or buying anything bulkier than a iPod mini.

It's a dumb idea to always pop off about bikes. I'll tell you the way I have read about accident this year in downtown, the last thing I want to do is to put myself front and center on the streets of Palo Alto for some driver on a cell phone to be oblivious to.

We have a ways to go before we get there ...

Just remember, people have to get in and out with "things" and that is why the Apple Store, and most other businesses still need parking. Let's be practical please.

Posted by Lisa, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2011 at 11:07 am

Hi Anon, the answer to your question: Swain's Music, 451 University Ave, Palo Alto - Current site of the AAPL store, and once the place where Jerry Garcia rented his instruments. That's why it's important. in 2100, The Grateful Dead will probably have the status of Puccini, and that's why preserving what is part of old Palo Alto is important. The absolutely unflattering modern buildings - (Where do they find these people?) that are replacing the old town don't add to the ambience. I can point to the truly ugly parking garage just SE of the train station on Alma as a prime example- and the Woolworths replacement? Bland, boring, just another piece of industrial stichk.

Posted by Lisa, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2011 at 11:09 am

See this Link:

Web Link

Posted by Palo Altan, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 11:20 am

I have lived in Palo Alto for 21 years and downtown Palo Alto is a place where I go a couple times a year at most. Not only are there buildings that are eye-sores, especially among newer building, but there are very few stores of interest for an average person. Mostly restaurants of unequal value and often overpriced. When I want to go to a downtown area I drive to Menlo Park or Los Altos where we find a good variety of stores, and a friendly, clean environment (and yes the vagrants in downtown Palo Alto are an issue).

Downtown PA is just unappealing to the average person. Sorry folks.

Posted by Biker Chick, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 11:47 am

I don't think I was "Popping off". I am a bicyclist from south Palo Alto who shops at the Apple store (and elsewhere downtown). I have experienced a shortage of bicycle parking when I visit downtown. The article said they were allowing Apple to REMOVE EXISTING bicycle parking. I simply asked if the existing parking would be replaced. That seems to me a reasonable request given that there already is a bike parking shortage.

We all share the road. We all need to park somewhere. Can we please be considerate of each other?

Posted by Biker dude, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 10, 2011 at 12:05 pm

No one is talking about removing all the car parking from downtown. Just converting a minuscule number of spaces to vastly improve the consumer parking in front of one of the most popular stores for local bicyclists. Apple's most popular products are ipods and iphones, right? Palo Alto has spent tens of millions of dollars on big parking garages downtown. It is not too much to ask for a couple of well located bike racks.

I bet the anti-bike-rack peoples' real agenda is to ban bicycles and pedestrians from all city streets.

Posted by who cares, a resident of Triple El
on Feb 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm

you know, they have plenty of unused bike parking at all city parking facilities. too far to walk for the biking crowd I guess.

Posted by Sam, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 10, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Apple has risen to the top of the business world on sales of iphones. Macs are still a minor part of the computer market. Most customers of the Apple store could ride their bikes. Not hard to figure out they want to remove the paper racks to open up the view into and out of the proposed glass building. Steven's right that bike racks instead of auto parking better accomplishes the same thing. And I'd think Apple would want to create a "green bike image" for its store rather than a "dirty auto image."

Posted by resident, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 11, 2011 at 8:52 am

FYI-here is a link from "The Palo Alto History Project" on the liddicoats building

Web Link

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 11, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Swain's House of Music - I took trumpet lessons there starting in the late 60's. My Dad took violin lessons there in the 40's.

Posted by Andrew, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 19, 2012 at 4:16 am

WE need more CARPET stores, NOT APPLES!


Posted by Jean-Louis Gassée, a resident of Addison School
on Aug 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm

I remeber Liddicoat, the Z-Gallerie. I arrived here 27 years ago. Lots of people objected to the Eiffel Tower, an abomination. For my money (I pay taxes here), Bohlin Cywinski Jackson creates more beautiful buildings than most. See what has been done across the street from the upcoming Apple Store, a regrettable hybrid of new and old. Also, the Walgreens building after the previous one was destroyed by fire, lame corporate architecture. And the new one being finished on the other corner. At least, most Apple Stores I've seen around the world are either terrific modern sructures, or beautiful remodeling of (truly) historic ones: Regent's Street and Covent Garden in London, the Opera Store rue Halévy in Paris.

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Actually it depends upon whether

1- you think of computers as machines that enhance productivity and also provide entertainment.

2-Or if you see them as over priced fashion items made by slaves

Apple stores should be accurately by replicas of Chinese sweat shops with massive pollution and suicide rates and slave labor.

It is what it is